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SMNI hosts on hunger strike in protest against 'illegal' House detention - legal counsel
SMNI hosts on hunger strike in protest against 'illegal' House detention - legal counsel
SMNI hosts on hunger strike in protest against 'illegal' House detention - legal counsel
by Ellicia Del Mundo07 December 2023

Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) hosts Jeffrey ‘Ka Eric’ Celiz and Lorraine Badoy are on hunger strike in protest against their “illegal detention" in the House of Representatives, SMNI legal counsel Mark Tolentino said on Thursday, Dec. 7.

Interviewed during DZRH Dos Por Dos, Tolentino said Celiz and Badoy started the hunger strike at 1 PM on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

“Starting kahapon, 1 PM nag-start yung hunger strike sila as a sign of protest of the illegal detention na ginagawa sa kanila,” he said.

Badoy and Celiz are staying in one room in the Senate, and they are restricted from using cellular phones.

“The visiting hours [are from] 3pm to 5pm, except lawyer na pwedeng bumisita 24/7,” the legal counsel added.

According to Tolentino, the SMNI hosts “are just fighting for their rights, fighting for freedom of press, freedom of expression, and of course the Sotto law.”

He claimed that his client, Celiz, was deprived of counsel during the House Committee on Legislative Franchises’ hearing last Tuesday, Dec. 5.

“Naniwala kami sa side namin na there is violation to right of counsel ng witness. Nandoon ako pero pinagbawalan akong tumabi sa kanila. Gusto niyang (Celiz) matanggal ang record sa Kongreso kasi lahat ng statement niya, wala siyang kasamang abogado. Naniwala siya na na-violate ang kanyang right to counsel,” Tolentino said.

Celiz and Badoy were taken to house detention cell after they were cited in contempt during the said House panel hearing.

House lawmakers agreed to cite Celiz in contempt as he refused to name the source, who claimed that House Speaker Martin Romualdez had allegedly spent ₱1.8 billion travel funds in 2023. Celiz said the source emanated in the Senate.

“May I manifest respectfully and humbly, before this committee, that all the statements given after oath, in the absence of legal competent advice and assistance previously, may be granted strike off the record because I believe my constitutional rights were violated,” he earlier told lawmakers.

Celiz then mentioned Sotto law as defense for not naming his source.

Under Republic Act No. 53 or Sotto law, “The publisher, editor or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news-report or information appearing in said publication which was related in confidence to such publisher, editor or reporter, unless the court or a House or committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the interest of the State.”

Badoy was also cited in contempt for allegedly lying about the advertisers of SMNI programs.

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